A paper by myself and Aaron Sloman, “Functionalism, Revisionism, and Qualia” has just been published in the APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Computing. (The whole issue looks fantastic – I’m looking forward to reading all of it, especially the other papers in the “Mind Robotics” section, and most especially the papers by Jun Tani and Riccardo Manzotti). Our contribution is a kind of follow-up to our 2003 paper “Virtual Machines and Consciousness”. There’s no abstract, so let me just list here a few of the more controversial things we claim (and in some cases, even argue for!):
- Even if our concept of qualia is true of nothing, qualia might still exist (we’re looking at you, Dan Dennett!)
- If qualia exist, they are physical – or at least their existence alone would not imply the falsity of physicalism (lots of people we’re looking at here )
- We might not have qualia: The existence of qualia is an empirical matter.
- Even if we don’t have qualia, it might be possible to build a robot that does!
- The question of whether inverted qualia spectra are possible is, in a sense, incoherent.
If you get a chance to read it, I’d love to hear what you think.